Intl. Notebook Jul 2 2016
REVOLUTION DAYS
Comprehensive photography book looks back at Cuba during the 1960s.

Seems everyone's talking about Cuba these days. Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the island in ages, and every megacorporation from Home Depot to Major League Baseball wants to do business there. By any measure, Cuba's is a remarkable story, particularly its educational and medical accomplishments in the face of an economic blockade that keeps out everything from computer chips to breakfast cereal.

Despite that embargo, Cubans can convincingly claim to be better off than residents in nearby capitalist nations like Honduras (highest per capita murder rate in the world), El Salvador (thousands killed each year by rampaging drug gangs), Haiti (59% poverty rate), and even Puerto Rico ($70 billion in debt—an astonishing $20,000 per resident). But one thing Cubans don't have is the opportunity to accumulate wealth. That may be about to change.

At such a moment, then, it seems like a good opportunity to look back at Cuba as it was during the heady days during and just after the Cuban Revolution. Cuba la fotografía de los años 60 is a large volume of images from that time, shot by such figures as Ernesto Fernández, Alberto Korda, and Raúl Corrales. The photos are mostly rare, and the technical quality is consistently high. We scanned the images below several years ago (the book appeared in 1988), but only just got around to sharing them today. As a bonus, there's an eloquent preface written by Roberto Fernández Retamar, which we've uploaded in its entirety.
 
If you've followed Pulp Intl. for a while you probably know we lived in Central America for some years, spending most of our time in Guatemala, but traveling around to numerous countries on the isthmus and in the Caribbean. So the region is a subject of some interest to us. Cuba will gain plenty from being allowed to reconnect with the world, but it will lose plenty too. It's impossible to know what sort of balance will be struck. Cubans, excited but also concerned, hope for a better one than exists in many of its neighbor countries, but only time will tell. 

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Politique Diabolique Oct 14 2013
STATE OF AFFAIRS
London drug raid uncovers no drugs but raises serious questions.


Over the weekend, a squad of drug cops raided the London flat of a woman named Natalie Rowe based on what they described as a “tip from a member of the public.” The drug cops found no drugs, no drug paraphernalia, no sign that drugs had ever been consumed in the apartment. Why is this such an interesting story? Because Rowe, formerly a prominent madam who procured women for paying male customers, is mere days from publishing an autobiography in which she details early 1990s sex and drug parties attended by various Tory politicians. She claims one of the politicians was current Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. He appears in the photo above with Rowe, along with what she says is a line of cocaine (in full, fat view between the yellow vase and the wine glass).

After the raid Rowe made an official complaint to police, saying she suspected she was targeted because of her forthcoming book. She was quoted in the tabloid The Sunday People: “I’m not into conspiracy theories. I’d like to think the fact I’ve been unfairly targeted by the police has nothing to do with the fact my book is about to be published, which happens to be very embarrassing for the Chancellor. But it’s certainly made me wonder.” Well, we’re into conspiracy theories and we’ll just come out and say that, especially in light of all the other dubious police activity in Great Britain these days, you’d have to be willfully blind to think the raid occurred for any other reason than at the behest of an influential government official.
 
Think about it. Would a mere “tip from a member of the public” trigger an expensive full-scale drug raid, with no corroborating intelligence whatsoever, such as surveillance, reports from undercover police, or multiple complaints from neighbors? If so, any Brit with a personal enemynow knows how to ruin that person's day. A single tip will bring a phalanx of police crashing through their door. Does your neighbor's dog bark late at night? Call the drug cops. Did some total ass get a promotion you wanted? Call the drug cops. So, let’s dismiss with this “tip from a member of the public” nonsense. Clearly, a full-scale drug raid that takes place with no corroborating intelligence doesn’t occur because of some random tip. It occurs because someone with great influence wants it to happen.
 
Were we to speculate, we’d suggest that the cops were searching for anything that would justify serious charges against Rowe and cast doubt on whatever she has written. But it seems they failed to find any leverage. Do we actually care if George Osborne hoovered rails of coke in his youth? Not in the least. It puts him in the same company as many politicians, including Barack Obama, who wrote in his autobiography of how in his youth he did "a little blow.” But the raid, which looks to us like pure abuse of power, is certainly a troubling event in a country that many residents already believe is morphing into a police state. Is some plebe threatening your status and/or power? Call the drug cops. In any case, we’ve got our Kindle charged and ready for Rowe’s book.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 22 2009
DEATH PANEL
We were always against government intervention—until we needed it.

That’s right, we killed Grandma—we had to. At first we were counting on Obama’s health plan to kill her, but when we found out that death panel stuff is just a bunch of fear-mongering wingnut baloney, we had to do it ourselves. We were gonna smother her with a Depends, but we thought that would look suspicious, so we finally staged a fatal Travelscoot accident. But it was all for nothing because the old bitch willed everything to the cat. It’s not fair I tell you. It’s just not fair!     

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Vintage Pulp Feb 20 2009
SPILLS, THRILLS & HEADACHES
Drugs corrupted her so much she stopped wearing a bra.

Though this could be a public service announcement or a magazine ad, it’s actually a poster for a movie—a real movie that really came out in 1937 and people really went to see. The plot: girl meets drug, girl smokes drug, girl gets the munchies and eats Häagen-Dazs until she gets a lethal brain freeze. It’s a cautionary tale, but you probably got that from the poster.

Here’s a list of admitted “marihuana” smokers who, despite their love of the demon weed, went on to great success: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Sarah Palin, David Bowie, Celine Dion, Eric Clapton, Robert Downey, Jr., Jacqui Smith, Alistair Darling, Al Gore, Clarence Thomas, Newt Gingrich, Michael Bloomberg, Timothy Leary, Paul McCartney, Kate Moss, Mickey Rooney, Robert Mitchum, Elizabeth Taylor, and of course, Charles Manson. Wait—sorry, scratch that last one.

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Politique Diabolique Jan 10 2009
BLAGOJEVICH UPDATE 2:
Illinois governor impeached by 114-1 vote.

Rod Blagojevich’s colleagues took turns on the floor of the state legislature and voted to impeach the beleaguered governor, with many also taking the opportunity to denounce him. Rep. Lou Lang said, “Here we are on Nixon’s birthday and the governor sounds a lot like Richard Nixon.” Rep. John Fritchey was more specific, declaring, “My Illinois is not the Illinois of George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, but Abe Lincoln and Barack Obama.” Said Rep. Jack Franks: “The plague that has been brought upon us by Rod Blagojevich will be lifted.”

While the 115 voted, Blagojevich jogged. But afterward, he spoke at a press conference, and had some harsh words for Jack Franks: “Plague? Plague? Fuck you, Franks, I got your plague right here, buddy. I got all seven plagues, you wanna get all Biblical with me. I got a fucking river of blood for you, and some hail mixed with fire, and I got some big fat frogs raining down on your ass, too. How you like me now, tough guy? Hey, tan much, George Hamilton? How ’bout you ease up on the UV bed? By the way, who’s paying for those sessions? That coming out of your pocket? Yeah, fat fucking chance, you hypocrite. Hey Frankie boy, I just remembered, I got another plague too. I got that unhealable boils plague. Yeah, I got a big fat unhealable boil for you right in my shorts, you fucking asshole.”

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Politique Diabolique Dec 11 2008
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
He tried to auction a vacant Senate seat—with the FBI listening to every word.

In the U.S., Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been snared in an FBI sting operation. His crime wasn’t the usual men’s room sexual solicitation. No, he was caught trying to sell Barack Obama’s soon-to-be vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. Under Illinois law, the governor of the state has the authority to appoint a successor when a Senate seat is vacated. FBI recordings reveal Blagojevich, a Democrat, discussing the appointment with virtually anyone he felt had something to offer in return. What incredible balls.

The conversations apparently were close to bearing fruit. Recordings reveal Blagojevich weighing a $500,000 offer from an as-yet anonymous source. Also on his wish list were such goodies as an ambassadorship, a cabinet post, possibly the establishment of a non-profit foundation in his name, or even an appointment for his wife to some powerful corporate board. President-elect Obama was not involved in these negotiations, it seems clear, because in one recording Blagojevich rails against Obama staffers for refusing to play along with the scheme, at one point declaring, “They’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.”

There seems very little chance Blagojevich can spin his way out of this mess, considering at one point he says a Senate seat is “a fucking valuable thing—you just don’t give it away for nothing.” Sadly, Blagojevich may be more rule than exception in Chicago politics. Slate magazine reported back in 2006 that the region is considered one of the most corrupt on the American political landscape, and has produced more indictments over the years than any area save central California/Los Angeles and south Florida. Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris have been formally charged with soliciting bribes and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 20
1935—Caroline Mikkelsen Reaches Antarctica
Norwegian explorer Caroline Mikkelsen, accompanying her husband Captain Klarius Mikkelsen on a maritime expedition, makes landfall at Vestfold Hills and becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica. Today, a mountain overlooking the southern extremity of Prydz Bay is named for her.
1972—Walter Winchell Dies
American newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell, who invented the gossip column while working at the New York Evening Graphic, dies of cancer. In his heyday from 1930 to the 1950s, his newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, he was read by 50 million people a day, and his Sunday night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people.
February 19
1976—Gerald Ford Rescinds Executive Order 9066
U.S. President Gerald R. Ford signs Proclamation 4417, which belatedly rescinds Executive Order 9066. That Order, signed in 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established "War Relocation Camps" for Japanese-American citizens living in the U.S. Eventually, 120,000 are locked up without evidence, due process, or the possibility of appeal, for the duration of World War II.
February 18
1954—First Church of Scientology Established
The first Scientology church, based on the writings of science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, is established in Los Angeles, California. Since then, the city has become home to the largest concentration of Scientologists in the world, and its ranks include high-profile adherents such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
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